Report: 49ers bench Kaepernick
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been told he won't start Sunday for the San Francisco 49ers and is being replaced by backup Blaine Gabbert, a person with knowledge of the decision said Monday night.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the decision wasn't to be discussed publicly. The team had not made a formal announcement, though coach Jim Tomsula offered a pretty good hint earlier in the day, saying, "we're evaluating everyone," on the heels of a 27-6 loss at St. Louis and a second straight game without a touchdown and third in five.
Kaepernick has been benched for his birthday, as he turns 28 today. In a strange twist, it was three years ago in November 2012 when Kaepernick was promoted to replace Alex Smith and he wound up leading San Francisco back to the Super Bowl and a three-point loss to Baltimore. Kaepernick made his first career start on Nov. 19, 2012, for former coach Jim Harbaugh.
Former first-round pick Gabbert completed 23 of 28 passes in the preseason — for an 82.1 completion percentage — for 203 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions and a 108.8 passer rating. He has stood by locker mate and friend Kaepernick, and they have regularly eaten lunch together, especially last week when a report said Kaepernick was alone "on an island" in the locker room.
"This whole team sees Kap on an everyday basis, we see him 15 hours a day in meetings," Gabbert said. "Unless those stories are coming from in here, they're false."
Bay Area Sports Guy first reported the change. The quarterback speaks each Wednesday, also the next scheduled availability for Tomsula.
Tomsula had always said Kaepernick was his quarterback and made that commitment almost weekly during San Francisco's struggles this season — until Monday.
The 49ers coach said every player is being evaluated and he didn't name his starting quarterback for a home game Sunday against Atlanta.
"We're evaluating everything right now, we're in the middle of it right now. I don't have any comments on any position on our field right now," Tomsula said. "We're evaluating everyone. I'm not going to have any further comment, I'm just telling you we're evaluating everyone."
SEAHAWKS: Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette had surgery to stabilize ligaments in his neck Monday, a day after being taken off the field on a backboard just before halftime of Seattle's game at Dallas.
Lockette underwent surgery at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. The Seahawks issued an update Monday evening that the surgery was a success and that all neurological signs were positive. Lockette is expected to stay in the hospital in Dallas for a few days recovering, but could be up and moving around as soon as today.
Lockette will miss the rest of the season and his long-term prognosis is still to be determined.
STEELERS: Steelers All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell is done for the season after Pittsburgh placed him on injured reserve Monday.
Bell hurt his right knee in a 16-10 loss against Cincinnati on Sunday.
In six games this season — he missed two while serving a league suspension — Bell rushed for 556 yards on 113 carries with three touchdowns. He had 24 receptions for 136 yards.
BEARS: Chicago running back Matt Forte and receiver Eddie Royal likely will return this season and probably won't need surgery to repair knee injuries they suffered in Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings, according to coach John Fox.
A day after Forte injured his right knee and Royal hurt his left one, Fox said he did not have an exact diagnosis or timetable for their returns.